University of Minnesota

Procedural Decisions of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Rwanda, U.N. Doc. A/53/18, para. IIB5 (1998).



Decision 5 (53) on Rwanda : Rwanda. 20/08/98.
A/53/18,para.IIB5. (Decision)

Convention Abbreviation: CERD
Fifty-third session
3-21 August 1998

Decision 5 (53) on Rwanda

1. The Committee, at its fifty-second session, having expressed concern over the climate of impunity that persists in some regions of the country, the length of detention and the deplorable conditions in which accused persons are held, continuing delays in the rebuilding of civil institutions, especially those of an independent judiciary, and reports of renewed genocidal violence in sections of the country, decided to reschedule the consideration of Rwanda for the Committee's fifty­third session under the agenda item on prevention of racial discrimination, including early warning and urgent action.

2. Having expressed its earnest hope that the State party would accept an invitation to participate in a meeting of the Committee during its fifty­third session, the Committee notes with regret that the State party has not responded to its invitation to appear and that no written submission has been received from the State party for consideration during the fifty­third session.

3. The lack of information from the State party, notwithstanding, the Committee discussed the implementation of the Convention in Rwanda at its 1298th meeting.

4. The Committee expresses great concern over reports of ethnic violence occurring in the north-west of the country and along the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Committee also expresses concern over reports that the violence has spread to the central region of the country and across the border into the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Committee calls on the Government of Rwanda and all parties to these conflicts to respect human rights and humanitarian law obligations at all times, in particular the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

5. The Committee also expresses its concern about the continued flow of arms into the region and calls on all States to enforce applicable arms embargos in the region.

6. The Committee calls on the Government of Rwanda to enhance cooperation with respect to the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and to take additional steps to publicize its proceedings.

7. The Committee calls on the State party to investigate allegations of serious ethnic violence and humanitarian law violations that may have been committed in 1996 and 1997 by, or under the command of, the Rwandan Patriotic Army, in Rwanda or in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as detailed in the report of the Secretary­General's Investigative Team charged with investigating serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (S/1998/581, annex). The Committee endorses the recommendation in the report of the Investigative Team to expand the competence of the International Tribunal for Rwanda to cover such violations.

8. The Committee notes with concern that the mandate of the United Nations Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda has come to an end and that the Government of Rwanda has refused to approve a new mandate with a human rights monitoring mission. The Committee expresses its strong opinion that a human rights mission in Rwanda must be established as a matter of urgency and calls on the State party and the United Nations to initiate a new round of discussions to ensure an international monitoring presence in the country.

9. The Committee recognizes that the Constitution of Rwanda guarantees all citizens equality before the law, without distinction based on race, colour or ethnic origin. Nevertheless, the Committee expresses concern about the under­representation of ethnic Hutus in important political and social institutions of the country.

10. The Committee also expresses its concern about the slow pace of national genocide trials and the legal deficiencies, including significant due process concerns. The Committee similarly expresses its grave concern about the deplorable conditions in which those accused of having participated in the genocide are being detained.

11. The Committee welcomes reports that members of the Rwandan Patriotic Army have been tried for grave human rights and humanitarian law violations that appear to have had an ethnicity­motivated character, including violations that were committed in the 1994 civil war and during the course of subsequent security operations in various regions of the country. Nonetheless, the Committee expresses its concern that some of these military trials appear to have been significantly lacking in basic due process guarantees. The Committee also notes that additional allegations of a similar nature remain to be investigated and, where sufficient evidence exists, soldiers and commanding officers must be prosecuted in a timely manner in proceedings that incorporate sufficient due process guarantees.

12. The Committee takes note of the report of the Special Representative of the Commission on Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Rwanda.

13. The Committee welcomes steps leading to the establishment of the National Human Rights Commission in Rwanda and calls on the State party, without further delay, to nominate, from a broad cross­section of society, qualified members to the new posts on the National Human Rights Commission. The Committee recommends that technical and advisory services of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, including the assistance from members of the Committee, are extended to the National Human Rights Commission in Rwanda so that it can take up its functions and perform them effectively.

14. The Committee decides to bring this decision to the urgent attention of the Secretaries­General of the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights so that this decision may be taken into account by those who have human rights and humanitarian responsibilities in the Great Lakes region.

15. The Committee decides to consider again the situation of Rwanda under this agenda item at its fifty-fourth session and expresses its urgent request to the State party to accept the Committee's invitation to appear before the Committee or to submit an updated report on conditions within the country, including security conditions and reports of escalating ethnic violence.

1299th meeting
19 August 1998



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